As advertising tycoon David Ogilvy famously stated, “Copy is not written—copy is assembled.”
But how do you assemble high-quality copy work?
You know, like Optimus-Prime-status assembly, with all the bells and whistles that put your freelancing clients into a state of awe.
No fluffy language. No jargon.
Just smooth sailin’ copy that flows like butter on paper (ahem, or computer) and speaks directly to your target market as though you’ve read their diary.
Well, whether you’ve recently launched your copywriting career or are decades deep into it, there are several strategies you can use to entice the Hemingway or Dickens right out of you.
In this resource, we’re going to take a deeper look at:
- 15 simple-yet-effective strategies to streamline your copy
- Common copywriting mistakes to avoid—and why
- Ways you can win your clients over (again and again)
Let’s dive into 15 of those strategies so you can be sure to write stellar copy for your freelancing clients (and keep them coming back for more).
Quality Copywriting Tip #1: Ask Questions
All too often, I see copywriters get stuck on this critical-but-often-overlooked tip: ask the client questions.
Sure, you don’t want to flood them with redundant questions or ask them things you should already know the answer to. After all, you want to underscore the fact that you’re a competent writer that can easily take their projects head-on.
But in order to truly ace each piece like the star copywriter you are, sometimes you need to dig more information out of the client.
Unless you’ve written for this client dozens of times and you know exactly what they want without asking, now’s the time to gather the information you need to make the finished product as amazing as it can be.
Remember, you don’t have a crystal ball—and guesswork generally doesn’t end well.
Make sure you know the:
- Goals for the piece
- Call to action
- Target audience
- Targeted keywords (if relevant)
- Tone of voice
Having these pieces of information from the get-go will help you deliver quality copy work for your clients—and save you time on revisions!.
Quality Copywriting Tip #2: Brush Up On Your Grammar
Look, if 74% of web readers pay attention to the quality of spelling and grammar (and they do, according to RealBusiness), then so will your client. Trust me—they’re the ones paying for the work.
And one of the worst things you could do when presenting a piece you wrote for a client is include careless spelling and grammar mistakes. After all, if you don’t care to double-check your work, your client can’t rely on you to truly care about their business.
Here are some quick tips to brush up on your grammar, punctuation, and spelling (No, you’re never too old for a refresher!):
- Review the basics with a grammar workbook or online tutorial.
- Read books—lots of ‘em. Reading helps reinforce grammar in your mind.
- Get a grammar manual to keep nearby so you can consult while you write.
- Proofread out loud.
Quality Copywriting Tip #3: Do Your Research
Chances are, you’re not going to have a deep understanding about every single topic that you have an assignment for. But even if you have basic knowledge of the subject, you should still do your homework.
This way you can take a deep dive into the subject matter, pull from important statistics, and craft interesting angles to create compelling and quality copy work. When you take the time to do research, you’ll also likely impress your client with your attention to detail.
As you research, take detailed notes: How does the research relate to the article? What section will you use it in? And how does it support your argument?
Research is what separates good copywriters from the great. Use it to your advantage.
Quality Copywriting Tip #4: Identify Your Target Market
Who are you writing for?
Yes, technically you’re writing for your client… But really, you’re writing for their target audience. So before you begin writing, put yourself in the audience’s shoes:
- What do they want to hear?
- What words, phrases, and propositions will draw them in?
- What solutions can you offer them?
Know your target audience intimately, and then write for them only. The result will be spot-on copy that elicits the response your client is looking for.
Quality Copywriting Tip #5: Get Crystal-Clear on Your Message
In order to draw quality copy work right out of your fingertips, you need to understand the purpose of the piece you’re writing:
- What is the end goal?
- What will the call to action be?
- Is the client looking for subscribers, leads, or conversions?
Understanding the purpose of the copy will help you get crystal-clear on the messaging. Maybe this piece of content is going to serve as a tool to build authority in your client’s industry, or maybe they’re looking to cultivate interest in their latest product.
Once you understand the message you need to convey to the reader, you can begin to craft copy around it that will speak to them and elicit the kind of response the client is looking for.
Quality Copywriting Tip #6: Scope Out the Competition
Some writers steer away from taking a look at their client’s competitors because they don’t want their ideas to be influenced.
But here’s the thing: doing thorough research—including scoping out your client’s competitors—isn’t for the purpose of plagiarism. It’s to help you better understand the industry, the pain points of the market, and how you can speak to the target audience.
Researching the competition can also give you insights into industry trends and where your client can fill gaps in the market. And that alone will put your copy ahead of the rest.
Quality Copywriting Tip #7: Develop a Writing Routine
Kurt Vonnegut. Maya Angelou. J.K. Rowling.
What do all of these writers have in common? They had routines.
See, you don’t just pump out famous literary works and New York Times Best Sellers without having some kind of routine under your belt to help you maximize productivity.
Writing routines are a great way to signal to your brain that it’s time to get down to business—and no, they’re not just for famous novelists. They also work for copywriters, or any creative for that matter.
Having a routine in place helps prioritize what matters, boosts productivity, and enhances time management.
More focus, better copywriting, and finishing those projects faster (And who doesn’t love that?).
Quality Copywriting Tip #8: Form a Partnership with Your Client
Part of writing quality copy for your clients is empathy—having an understanding of their business, their goals, and what they need to do to get there.
As a copywriter, you’re an essential piece of that puzzle. And if you can put yourself in the shoes of your client and their target market, you’re already a step ahead of the rest.
Write their copy as though you’re writing it for your own business. You want that business to succeed. So what kind of copy are you going to put out into the world?
Quality copy, of course. You’re not going to do the bare minimum. Instead, you’re going to do whatever it takes to write fantastic copy.
At the end of the day, you and your client should feel like you’re in a sort of partnership. Because you are. And their success equals your success.
Quality Copywriting Tip #9: Be Flexible
Some copywriters make the mistake of thinking they have all the answers. Don’t be one of them.
When you open yourself to outside influence, you open yourself up to fresh and innovative ideas. So when it comes to listening to your client or getting feedback on drafts from others, be flexible.
While you should always voice your honest opinion if you think a certain angle or direction will best serve the end goal, you may be surprised at what you learn if you simply open yourself up to other opinions.
Learning to adapt, change, and adjust as necessary will not only make the work less stressful, but it can also boost your creative spirit.
Quality Copywriting Tip #10: Write with Simplicity
One of the mistakes many copywriters make is forgetting to keep things simple.
In order to deliver quality copy work for your clients, avoid the bloat and streamline your stuff as much as possible. This can prove difficult, as writing simple sentences is actually harder than writing long ones that ramble on.
Writing concise copy takes skill, but it’s a skill worth learning. Your copy should be snappy, easy to understand (regardless of the target market), and always stay on track:
- Keep ideas clear
- Create breathing room between ideas and sentences
- Skip jargon or difficult words
- Use the Hemingway app to check for passive voice and complex sentences
Quality Copywriting Tip #11: Don’t Multitask
Multitasking is a tricky thing.
Sure, it feels like you’re getting more done. But really, the exact opposite is happening. In fact, not only has research shown that multitaskers are less mentally organized, but it actually costs businesses more than $450 million per year.
Not pretty, right?
So if you want to write quality copy that hits all of the marks, be sure to turn off notifications, remove any distractions, or even turn your WiFi off completely.
Single-tasking increases creativity, energy, and focus—meaning it will let you get your work done. And done well.
Quality Copywriting Tip #12: Quality Over Quantity
Yes, word count is a real requirement. And for certain projects, such as long-form blog posts, it’s for good reason. A higher word count often means more value for the reader.
But stretching words just to meet a word count? Not such a great strategy. In fact, it can completely deflate otherwise good copy—while alienating your client. Trust me, they’ll be able to tell if you’re mailing it in. And that’s no strategy to submit quality copy for your clients.
Instead of fluffing your copy to meet word count, either suggest a lower word count (if you’re absolutely certain this will improve the piece), or reassess what you’ve written and give it another pass.
Remember: cut the jargon, dodge the filler, and keep things simple. Make the message clean, neat, and offer value to the reader.
Quality Copywriting Tip #13: Proofread (More Than Once)
When writers don’t proofread their own work, it’s painfully obvious. So if you have the habit of turning projects in the minute you stop typing the first draft, think again.
It’s absolutely vital to re-read your copy—a few times. Walk away, take a break, and come back to what you’ve written with fresh eyes. Then, read the piece out loud.
Does it flow? Do you spot any grammatical mistakes? Are there any redundancies that can be removed? Can your sentences be more concise?
In order to be a great writer, you must edit ruthlessly. Read your piece several times. Cut the fat. Run spell check. And don’t forget, simplicity wins.
Look, nobody—not even authors on the New York Times Best Sellers list—hang their hat on their first draft.
Quality Copywriting Tip #14: Hire an Editor
Don’t think you need an editor? Even the best writers in the world need someone to look over their work.
An editor will help you bring ideas to the surface with more clarity, remove any errors or inconsistencies, and will streamline your copy overall.
Not only will a talented editor make your work better, but the end result will also impress your freelancing clients.
Quality Copywriting Tip #15: Welcome Feedback
Whether you’re writing your first blog post or you’re Mark Twain himself, there is always room for feedback. And if you’re a smart copywriter (which I know you are), you’ll always be seeking out quality feedback from those that matter so you can constantly improve your craft.
For one, ask for feedback from fellow writers, editors, and friends on pieces. Have them read over your work. How does it flow? Does it make sense? Is it compelling? Does it accomplish the result you’ve set out to create? The goal is to get objective feedback so you can make adjustments as necessary.
Secondly, open up the feedback discussions with your clients.
Whatever you do, don’t see feedback as criticism. See it as an opportunity to hone your skills.
Becoming the best copywriter you can be isn’t an overnight process—in fact, it’s a lifelong one.
But by putting these 15 strategies into practice, you can be well on your way to delivering quality copy work for your freelancing clients… every single time.
Which of these strategies is new to you?
Which strategy had you thinking, “I need to be doing more of this…”?
Let me know in the comments below.
Keep AutoGrowin’, stay focused.